In a German case that could have broader antitrust implications in Europe, Google defeated a petition for an injunction brought by a German online weather trade group, Verband Deutscher Wetterdienstleister. The case is interesting because it involves a private antitrust action against Google and directly addresses the “search bias” argument made by Google critics.Sterling summarizes the complaint against Google thus;
To which, Sterling says, the ruling was, Vergessen Sie es;
- Google can put its own “weather box” at the top of search results
- Third party weather sites become less visible (or effectively invisible in this case)
- Visiting third party weather sites becomes less necessary or even unnecessary
- The decline in organic traffic harms publishers and decreases revenue, jeopardizing their businesses
...the court argued that the weather association was essentially seeking to protect ad-revenue stability for its member publishers and shield them against the impact of market competition. It further asserted that Google was changing precisely in response to market forces and competition and that it had a right to do so, to provide what it regarded as the best overall user experience.Which was what Microsoft was doing too back in the 1990s, and to which the U.S. Dept. of Justice objected because Microsoft might actually make some bucks doing so. And that didn't sit well with economists who thought that wouldn't have been nice.